Understanding the 76ers’ Strategy


Sam Hinkie remains a mystery.

The man very well could be Batman, as he is barely seen out in the world.  One day there are rumors he is in Philadelphia, the next day he is overseas watching foreign prospects play, and then he is in back alleys fighting crime (aka trading cap space for cash and players he can waive).

Perhaps the most important thing to investigate though is that crime-fighting mentality of his.  Why does Hinkie make all of these insignificant moves.  I mean, my God, the man owns about half of the second round picks for the next decade!  By understanding what Hinkie looks for in a player and in a trade, it will enable us to better predict what direction this team will head in via the draft, trades, and free agency.

The first thing to realize is what Hinkie looks for in a player.

He doesn’t look for the whole package.  He is not looking for an Evan Turner coming out of college, ie someone who is polished and analysts are saying that we basically know what he is.  Hinkie is in full rebuild mode, which I know is a shock to most of you by now.  What that means though is that he is looking for players with a real basketball skill.

This is a difficult concept to understand, and I recognize that, so instead of looking at it as a whole, let’s look at some examples.

The easiest example to see Hinkie’s mindset is Robert Covington.  Robert Covington has a real NBA skillset, which is outside shooting.  Covington is a deadly three point shooter, shooting 44.3% from downtown so far this season on 122 attempts.  The problem with Covington was everything else, as he was not seen as much of a well-rounded player.  However, since coming to the Sixers, he has developed some ball handling ability and has shown good effort on the defensive side of the floor.  He was brought in for a specific skillset, but is developing into a quality role player.

Another example of the Hinkie mindset is JaKarr Sampson.  This is a 6’9 forward who should definitely be in the D-League, Sampson is a super athletic big man who can handle the ball.  Again, try to think like Hinkie.  Sampson has NBA size, above-average NBA athleticism, and ball-handling ability.  Now, he has basically no offensive game and his defense is probably best described as helter-skelter.  However, Samuel “Bossman” Hinkie keeps Sampson around to see if he can develop some of the other facets of his game, which would make Sampson a very valuable commodity around the league.

That is the point of all of these second round picks.  They are not highly regarded in the NBA due to the lack of stars that come out of the second round.  However, the Sixers may be able to find one or two quality role players in the second round.  Guys who have a couple of real NBA talents but just don’t have the whole package at the time of the draft.

Therefore, Hinkie takes them and works to develop their game and then, he has incredibly cheap trade pieces.  He has guys like Henry Sims.  A 7 foot big man with a nice shooting touch on an incredibly reasonable salary.  That is valuable to some of the playoff hopefuls around the league.

The second concept to consider when trying to analyze this 76ers rebuild is to look at some of the players Hinkie has invested valuable resources in.

Take Nerlens Noel.

This was a super athletic big man who projected to be an elite defensive rim-protector, could run the floor like an antelope, and could guard multiple positions.  If he wasn’t injured in college, he would have been a top 3 pick.

However, he was injured in college.  So, he slipped in the draft, and Hinkie started his aggressive approach to rebuilding a franchise by trading his All-Star point guard for a chance to draft Nerlens.

So, what does this imply about Hinkie?  He likes a bargain?  He wasn’t dumb and picked up a guy who had higher upside than most other players in the draft?

All of the above is correct, but not the point.  The point is that Hinkie understands there are a couple of things every team needs to be successful.

Athleticism, shooting, and rim protection.

All of the players that Hinkie drafts, trades for, or signs have one of those qualities.  Nerlens Noel marks off two of those baskets.  But, even more tempting, was he had the built in red-shirt season.  Noel had to sit out his rookie year due to his injury.  Therefore, Hinkie knew he could have his coaching staff rebuild Noel’s shot and, hopefully, he could be a game changing player on both ends of the court.

What does this information tell us about Sam Hinkie going forward into the trade deadline season?

This season, not much.  Hinkie will continue to look for low cost assets.  Think D-League/bottom of the roster players, second round picks, and the acquisition of older players on less than ideal contracts.

Going into the draft, the 76ers will still draft the best player available.  Even if that means picking up another big man in our already crowded frontcourt, Hinkie is solely after assets.

This thought process is more for long term development.

It’s a slow march, but we are starting to figure out this rebuilding process.  Patience is key, but through this patience, we are finding a sense of reality in what the future will bring to Philadelphia.      

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